by Elijah Jarocki
Arthur Russell was a brilliant New York artist who never saw the recognition he deserved during his lifetime. He died in 1992 from HIV complications, but his partner Tom Lee sifted through his unheard recordings and released several compilations since Russell’s death. This week, I’m putting both “First Thought Best Thought” and “World Of Echo” in heavy rotation.
“World Of Echo,” released in 1986, was Arthur Russell’s only solo album released during his lifetime. The record features extensive use of delay on Russell’s voice and cello to create somewhat dancey rhythms as well as haunting, gorgeous melodies. Although Russell never received much acclaim during his life, “World Of Echo” has since been sampled by countless artists. Most notably, the track “Answers Me” was used in Kanye West’s “30 Hours.” Believe me, “World Of Echo” is something you’ve never quite heard before in the best way possible.
A different side of Arthur Russell, “First Thought Best Thought” has no vocals at all.
Instead, Russell develops a melancholy mood on the first side: “Instrumentals.” The production is beautifully executed. Gorgeous woodwinds float in a sea of gentle percussion and orchestral sweeps. On side two, “Tower Of Meaning,” the instrumentation becomes less groovy and more impactful. These neo-classical pieces are teeming with emotion. The entire record is incredibly aesthetically cohesive. Perfect for homework or hanging out, “First Thought Best Thought” is a beautiful choice any time.
Following the melancholy mood, RF Shannon’s new record “Jaguar Palace” is shoegazy, reverby, bliss. It has fuzzy-never-shreddy guitars, light percussion, and meandering melodies that will take you on a sonic journey. They hail from Austin and it’s easy to imagine their sound shimmering through a flaming desert. “Jaguar Palace” only has 6 songs, but RF Shannon spans a staggering 41 minutes with this epic. It’s a slow type of storytelling, patient and easy. Fans of Kurt Vile or Slowdive will definitely appreciate this new release.
Pile’s new record “A Hairshirt of Purpose” is definitely a departure from their normal sound. Lovingly described as “if Kings of Leon heard Women for the first time,” the release combines somewhat-angular guitars with dramatic vocal melodies. “A Hairshirt of Purpose” is quite different from their seminal record “Magic Isn’t Real.” It’s a different type of emo, less screechy and more devastating. I miss their youthful energy, but “A Hairshirt of Purpose” is depicts a grown-up band making serious music. It’s still growing on me, but I can definitely see myself liking it soon.
There you have it. Radio Prom is Friday night at 8pm in Club 156, but you can hear great music 24/7 on 1190 AM in Denver or 98.9 FM in Boulder.